Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020
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Mental fitness focused on by the BOC

What’s going on with the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC)?

Well, there is the ongoing preparation for its biggest regional event this year, the 18th Pan American Games, scheduled for Lima, Peru, from July 25 to August 11.

Then, there is more. In fact, the BOC has a new approach to sports development.

Mental fitness is the focus. A mental fitness course will be afforded to all federations and their members at a venue to be determined this month. So informed BOC Secretary General Derron Donaldson.

It’s the first time, in this country, there has been a mental fitness course planned, with the depth intended by the BOC.

“The budget has just been approved and Vice President Dorian Roach is leading that initiative. The course might take place at the ministry of sports, but we’ll decide the venue soon. This is an aspect of sports development we want to begin concentrating on,” said Donaldson.

Donaldson acknowledged that mental fitness preparation has been a missing element, for the most part, in sports development in the country, as priority has been generally given to the physical aspect of conditioning.

“I was in on a discussion recently. The question was put as to what is most essential after the physical readiness has been attended to. It had to be pointed out that, the next area of significance, is being mentally prepared to compete,” related Donaldson.

In truth, many battles in sports have been won by those with the mental edge. Mind has persevered over matter, physicality.

I remember Muhammad Ali talking about how daunting a task it was, maintaining mental strength when physically he did not feel like raising his arms against his major career rival, Joe Frazier, in their fabled “Thriller in Manila” contest. There were times toward the end, when both Ali and Frazier looked about to collapse to the canvas.

The relief was evident in Ali’s face, when, prior to the start of the 15th round, Frazier’s chief corner attendant Eddie Futch, conceded on behalf of his fighter. It was a 14th round technical knockout for Ali. As it turned out, he was mentally tougher than Frazier on that occasion, perhaps just a bit, but certainly enough.

Then, there was one of the many conversations I had with Pauline Davis-Thompson about her illustrious career. We were reflecting on her first major world competition medal, a 400 meters (m) silver at the 1995 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. She was 29 at the time, and willing to die to get that first major medal.

“I can’t remember anything after 300 meters. I knew I was in contention and my body was tightening up and then, I just blanked out. The next thing I remember was that I had finished the race and someone told me I had placed second,” Davis recalled.

Mental fitness was the difference for the grand dame of track and field on that occasion and many more. This is where, Donaldson, Roach, BOC President Romell Knowles and the rest of their executive colleagues are going.

To that end, according to Donaldson, in the future it is very likely, the BOC will be accrediting a mental fitness expert to be available for the athletes and all others, directly connected to competition.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.


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